Investing in Racial Justice and Supporting BIPOC Organizations

ACCP Staff

Image: Black woman wearing COVID-19 mask

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has a long history dating back to the late 1800s and the philanthropic efforts of businessmen like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Since then, CSR has evolved and changed with the times - from Johnson & Johnson’s Credo which was developed in 1943 to the establishment of social enterprises, B Corps, and public benefit corporations, which incorporate social responsibility into their business models. We’ve moved from “checkbook philanthropy” to “strategic philanthropy.” Now, as we enter 2021, CSR is facing another pivotal moment of change as we look to understand the impact of racial equity and philanthropy.

With more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S., there are numerous possibilities to support for CSR practitioners looking to make an impact in their communities. So, how does one decide? Do you check the Top Ten Lists on Charity Navigator? Research Forbes’ America’s Top Charities List? Do you get a recommendation from your network? Do you check for the GuideStar Seals of Transparency? Do you evaluate their financial fitness?

For many CSR professionals, these are the practices historically relied on, but what does it mean for BIPOC-led organizations? How have these practices contributed to only 10% of grant dollars going to people of color? How might these practices contribute to racial bias in philanthropic funding? According to The Bridgespan Group, there are four barriers to capital for BIPOC leaders:

  • Leaders of color have inequitable access to social networks that enable connections to the philanthropic community.
  • Interpersonal bias can manifest as mistrust and micro-aggressions, which inhibit relationship-building and emotionally burden leaders of color.
  • Funders often lack understanding of culturally relevant approaches, leading them to over-rely on specific forms of evaluation and strategies that are familiar to them.
  • Grant renewal processes can be arduous if mistrust remains and funding may stop if the funder has a white-centric view that defines strategic priorities and progress measurement.

More than just understanding the impact of racial equity and philanthropy, we must take action to eliminate these barriers and ultimately move from storytelling to "story-doing." But where do we start? Here are some resources to help CSR practitioners examine their current practices, learn to invest in racial justice, and support BIPOC-led organizations so that together we can achieve social change.


In December 2020, ACCP, CECP, Council on Foundations, and Points of Light joined forces to develop the Racial Equity Partner Series. This virtual event provided an opportunity for corporate leaders to listen to voices in the movement for racial equity, learn what peers are doing, understand how to take action to advance anti-racism commitments, and provide accountability in a supportive community. ACCP is pleased to share a sampling of those conversations here. ACCP members can click here to access the full list of recordings.